14 Feb 2017

Pharmacies to sell pill over the counter

11:31 am on 14 February 2017

Women will soon be able to buy contraceptive pills over the counter at pharmacies.

Contraceptive pills

Photo: 123RF

Medicine regulatory authority Medsafe is changing the classification of some oral contraceptives from prescription to restricted medicines.

Medsafe group manager Chris James said to be eligible to buy the pill at a pharmacy a woman must have been prescribed a similar product within the previous three years.

Women with risk factors that required medicial supervision would not be eligible. Those under 16, or taking the pill for the first time, will also not be able to buy the pill over the counter.

Mr James said women would be encouraged to let pharmacists notify their GP if they were getting the contraceptive at a pharmacy.

A submission to reclassify selected oral contraceptives was first made to the Medical Classifications Committee in 2014.

Committee chair Dr Stewart Jessamine said the proposal was reviewed extensively and a wide range of medical professionals and consumer representatives had been consulted.

"The committee was satisfied that pharmacists could supply oral contraceptives to women who meet the specified criteria with the same levels of safety as other healthcare professionals."

The committee recommended the change to Medsafe. The reclassification is expected to come into effect by the end of February.

Dr Jessamine said pharmacists would be trained before being able to supply the pill.

"The Pharmacy Council and Pharmaceutical Society will be responsible for ensuring pharmacists are appropriately trained to provide oral contraceptives without a prescription to eligible women."

Pharmacists will be able to sell up to six months' supply at a time.